“Confirmation bias is the tendency to search for, interpret, favor, and recall information in a way that confirms one's preexisting beliefs or hypotheses. It is a type of cognitive bias and a systematic error of inductive reasoning.”
Turns out that it is also my go-to bias. Apparently, I am not alone. Whether it is regarding politics, sports, religion, etc., most people tend to gravitate toward the channels of information that affirm what they already believe. Confirmations of this bias are:
People shopping doctors to get the diagnosis they want.
Leaders surrounding themselves with “yes” men or women.
My partners and I meet quarterly to plan, check progress, and determine where we need to change things. We also periodically do an exercise we share with all our clients. We have everyone offer encouragement around what they appreciate about one another and constructive areas for improvement in the ways they might improve.
That is what we and many others have said…until they actually do the exercise. It produces tremendous trust, accountability, and growth, for everyone. It becomes one of the favorite experiences of all our clients.
The last few times we did this exercise, the strongest affirmation I received was around my ability to very quickly size up a situation and discern causes and solutions. They also graciously say that I am typically 99% right.
It is something our clients really appreciate about me.
While it is something glorious and valuable, it is also where a real problem can develop. Conversely, they say one of the most challenging things about me is that since I typically get to the right answers so quickly, I am not very open to hearing contrary opinions or ideas.
I simply seek confirmation for what I already believe I know to be true.
The one great challenge they identify is the shadow of one of the great gifts. It is almost always that way. Instead of broadening and richening my perspective, my focus starts to narrow. Instead of more powerfully seeing the value in the other doors available, my desire to confirm just drives me blindly toward the single door.
It shrouds the value of my gifting.
Hearing that consistently from people I trust and know care about me, is softening the bias. It still operates, but I have a much better awareness now of both the value and the challenge that it brings. In this one particular area…
I am not where I want to be, but I am no longer who I used to be.
Like an apprentice swordsman, I am not only learning how to handle the weapon better, but the blade is also sharpening in the process. In every great comic book, there is a hero and a villain. The only difference is that one of them is using their gifting and power for good while the other is using it for evil.
I am learning through the coaching of my fellow team members to use my gifting for more good than evil.
- Do you know what your superpowers are? What your greatest contribution to the team is?
- On the contrary, do you know what is most challenging about having you on the team?
- Do you have people around you that you trust enough to tell you the hard things and hold you accountable? That is the foundation for all good coaching.